Cover Reveal: Chasing the Star Garden, by Melanie Karsak

Chasing the Star Garden_Melanie Karsak_D3

Chasing the Star Garden
The Airship Racing Chronicles

An opium-addicted beauty.

An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile.

An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands.

Melanie Karsak’s Chasing the Star Garden takes readers on a thrilling adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem-colored waters of the ancient world. Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and shattered past, reluctantly plunges into a centuries-old mystery in a novel best described as Dan Brown meets Mary Shelley.

It all begins on one of the worst days of Lily’s life. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium.

Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way.

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Chapter 1

I was going to lose-again. I gripped the brass handles on the wheel and turned the airship sharply port. The tiller vibrated in protest making the wheel shake and my wrist bones ache. Bracing my knees against the spokes, I tore off my brown leather gloves to get a better feel. The metal handgrips were smooth and cold. My fingers tingled from the chill.

“Easy,” I whispered to the Stargazer. I looked up from my position at the wheelstand, past the ropes, burner basket, and balloon, toward the clouds. They were drifting slowly left in a periwinkle blue sky. There’d be an updraft as we passed over the green-brown waters of the canal near Buckingham House. I locked the wheel and jumped from the wheelstand onto the deck of the gondola and looked over the rail. The canal waters were a hundred feet away. I ran back to the wheel and steadied the ship. If I caught the updraft, it would propel me up and forward and give me an edge.

“Cutter caught it, Lily,” Jessup yelled down from the burner basket below the balloon opening. “Up he goes,” he added, looking out through his spyglass. The gold polish on the spyglass reflected the fire from the burner.

“Dammit!” I snapped down my binocular lense. I saw Hank Cutter’s red-and-white striped balloon rise upward. At the top, he pitched forward with great momentum, catching a horizontal wind. I could just make out Cutter at the wheel. His blond hair blew wildly around him. He turned and waved to me. Wanker.

I was not as lucky. Just as the bow of the Stargazer reached the water, a stray wind came in and blew us leeward. The balloon jiggled violently in the turbulent air. I missed the air pocket altogether.

“No! No, no, no!” I cursed and steadied the ship. I had chased Cutter from Edinburgh across the Scottish and English countryside. He had been off his game all day. I’d had him by half a mile the entire race. With the bottom feeders lingering somewhere in the distance behind us, I’d thought the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix would be mine. That was until St. Albans, where Cutter caught a random breeze that pushed him slightly in front of me. Cutter had a knack for catching favorable winds; it was not a talent I shared.

“We’re coming up on Westminster,” Jessup yelled down from the basket. “Lily, drop altitude. Cutter is too high. Come in low and fast, and you might overtake him.”

The airship towers sat at the pier near the Palace of Westminster along the Thames. A carnival atmosphere had overtaken the city as it always does on race day. Colorful tents were set up everywhere. Vendors hawked their wares to excited Londoners and international visitors. I could hear the merchants barking from their tents even from this far above. I fancied I could smell roasted peanuts in the wind.

I jumped down from the wheelstand, ran across the deck, and pulled the valve cord, opening the flap at the top of the balloon. Hot air released with a hiss. I kept one eye on the balloon and another eye on Tinkers’ Tower. At this time of day, the heat coming off of the Palace of Westminster and Tinkers’ Tower would give us a bump. I looked up. Cutter had started preparing his descent. It would be close.

I ran back to the wheel.

“Angus, I need more speed,” I yelled down to the gear galley, rapping on the wooden hatch that led to the rods, belts, and propeller parts below.
Angus slapped open the hatch and stuck out his bald head. His face was covered in grease, and his blue-lense monocle glimmered in the sunlight. He looked up at the clouds and back at me.

“Let’s giddyup,” I called to him.

“You trying the Tower sling?” he yelled back.

“You got it.”

He laughed wildly. “That’s my lassie,” he yelled and dropped back down, pulling the wood hatch closed with a clap. I heard the gears grind, and the propeller, which had been turning nice and steady, began to hum loudly. The ship pitched forward. Within moments, we were coming up on Tinkers’ Tower. The airship towers were just a stone’s throw away.

I aimed the ship directly toward Tinkers’ Tower. Just as the bowsprit neared the clock, I yanked the wheel. The warm air caught us.

“Whoa!” Jessup yelled as the balloon moved within arm’s length of the tower.

The sound of “Ohhs!” echoed from the crowd below.

A mix of warm air and propulsion gave us some go, and seconds later we were slingshotting around Tinkers’ Tower toward the airship platforms. Gliding in on warm air and momentum, we flew fast and low.

Cutter had kept it high, but now he was dropping like a stone toward his own tower. Damned American. I didn’t blame him; I would have used the same move. His balloon was releasing so much air that I wondered if he would be able to slow down in time, not that I would have minded seeing him smash to the ground in a million pieces.

“It’s going to be close,” Jessup yelled as he adjusted the heat pan.

I guided the helm. The Stargazer was temperamental, but we understood one another. A shake of the wheel warned me I was pushing too hard. “Almost there,” I whispered to the ship.

The Grand Prix Marshalls were standing on the platform. Cutter and I had the end towers. I was going to make it.

“Cut propulsion,” I yelled toward the gear galley. On the floor near the wheelstand, a rope led to a bell in the galley. I rang it twice. The propeller switched off.

A soft, sweet wind blew in from the port side. It ruffled my hair around my shoulders. I closed my eyes and turned the wheel slightly starboard, guiding the ship in. Moments later, I heard a jubilant cheer erupt from the American side and an explosion from the firework cannon signaling the winner had been declared. My eyes popped open. I tore off my goggles and looked starboard. Cutter’s balloon was docked. I threw the goggles onto the deck and set my forehead against the wheel.

The Stargazer settled into her dock. Jessup set the balloon on hover and, grabbing a rope, swung down to the deck. He then threw the lead lines and anchors onto the platform. The beautifully dressed crowd, gentlemen in suits and top hats and fancy ladies in a rainbow of satin gowns carrying parasols, rushed toward the American end of the platform to congratulate the winner.

I was, once again, a national disgrace. Lily the loser. Lily second place. Perhaps I would never be anything more than a ferrywoman, a cheap air jockey.

“Good job, Lily. Second place!” Jessup said joining me. He patted me on the shoulder.

I sighed deeply and unbuttoned my vest. The tension had me sweating; I could feel it dripping down from my neck, between my breasts, into my corset.

“You did great,” I told Jessup. “Sorry I let you down.”

“Ah, Lily,” he sighed.

Angus emerged from below wiping sweat from his head with a greasy rag. He pulled off his monocle. He frowned toward the American side. “Well, we beat the French,” he said with a shrug and kissed me on the cheek, smearing grease on me.

“Good job, Angus. Thank you,” I said, taking him by the chin and giving him a little shake as I wrinkled my nose and smiled at him.
Angus laughed and dropped his arm around Jessup’s shoulders. They grinned happily at one another.

“You stink, brother,” Jessup told him.

“It’s a wee bit toasty down there. Besides, I pedaled this ship across the entire fucking country while you were up here looking at the birds. That, my friend, is the smell of success.”

I laughed.

“You pedaled the ship?” Jessup asked mockingly. “Like Lil and I were just up here playing cards? If I didn’t keep the balloon aloft, your ass would be kissing the ground.”

“Now wait a minute. Are you saying your job is more important that mine?” Angus retorted.

I could see where this was going. “Gents.”

“More important? Now why would I say that? Just because I’m the one . . .” Jessup started and then his mouth ran.

“Gents.”

“ . . . and another thing . . .” Jessup went on.

“Gentlemen! Our audience awaits,” I said cutting them both off, motioning to the well-shod crowd who waited for us on the loading platform outside the Stargazer.

I grinned at my crew. “Come on. Let’s go.”

I patted the rail of the Stargazer. “Thanks,” I whispered to her, and we exited onto the platform.

A reporter from the London Times and several race officials stood waiting for me.

“Well done, Lily! Well done!” the British race official congratulated me with a pat on the back. “Second place! King George will be so proud. One of these days you’ll have it, by God.”

I was pretty sure that the last thing I needed was the attention of George IV, the extravagant, unpopular lush. But I bit my tongue and smiled politely.

“Lily, how did Cutter beat you? You led the entire race,” the reporter asked. She was a round woman wearing a very thick black lace collar that looked like it was choking her. Her heavy purple walking dress looked hot under the late afternoon summer sun, and the brim of her black satin cap barely shaded her nose. I noticed, however, that she had a small clockwork fan pin attached to her chest. The fan wagged cool air toward her face.

I pulled off my cap, mopped my forehead, and thought about the question. “Luck,” I replied.

“Lily, that was some move around Tinkers’ Tower. How did you learn to do that?” another reporter asked.

“My father,” I lied.

“Make way, make way,” one of the race officials called, ushering a Marshall forward.

The Marshall looked like someone who lingered an hour too long at supper. The gold buttons on his satin, marigold colored vest would take an eye out if they popped. His overly tall top hat was adorned with a ring of flowers that matched his striking orange colored dress coat.

“Miss Stargazer, congratulations,” he said, shaking my hand. “The Spanish airship is coming in now. Will you please join Mr. Cutter at the winners’ podium?” he asked politely as he guided me forward by the hand.

From below there was a commotion. A man dressed in an unusual costume rushed up the stairs. The London constables, a full squadron of the Bow Street Runners, chased him. When he got to the loading platform, the man pushed through a crowd of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen, many of whom were gentry. It was then I could see he was dressed as a harlequin. He wore the traditional red and black checked outfit and a black mask. He scanned the towers until he caught sight of me. He jumped, landing on the tower railing, and ran toward me. A woman in the crowd screamed. Moments later the constables appeared on the platform. The race Marshalls pointed toward the harlequin who was making a beeline for me.

I let go of the Marshall’s hand and stepped back toward the ship.

“Lily,” Jessup warned, moving protectively toward me.

Angus reached over the deck of the Stargazer and grabbed a very large wrench.

Was it an assassin? Christ, would someone murder me for winning second place? I turned and ran toward the Stargazer. A moment later, the harlequin flipped from the rail, grabbed one of the Stargazer’s ropes, and swinging over the others, landed on the platform directly in front of me. Any second now, I would be dead.

He panted and muttered “Lily?” from behind the mask.

“Stop that man! Stop him!” a constable yelled.

“Get out of my way!” Angus roared at the crowd that had thronged in between us.

The masked man grabbed me, tugged on the front of my trousers, and leaned into my ear. The long nose of the mask tickled the side of my face. “Go to Venice,” he whispered as he stuffed something down the front of my pants.

“We got you now,” a constable said, grabbing him, raising his club.

The man shook him off, took two steps backward, and with a jump, leapt off the tower.

Several people in the crowd screamed.

I rushed to the side of the tower to see the harlequin lying at its base. His body was twisted, and his arms and legs bent oddly, contorted into three distinct points. Blood began pooling around him.

“Miss Stargazer, are you all right?” a constable asked.

“A man just killed himself in front of me. No, I am not all right.”

“I mean, are you harmed? Did he hurt you?”

I shook my head and looked down at the mangled body which lay in the shape of a three-sided triskelion. It was the same symbol that was painted on the balloon of the Stargazer.

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About the Author

Melanie Karsak Author Pic by Orange Moon Studios

Melanie Karsak grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania where there was an abysmal lack of entertainment, so she turned to reading and hiking. Apparently, rambling around the woods with a head full of fantasy worlds and characters will inspire you to become an author. Be warned. Melanie wrote her first novel, a gripping piece about a 1920s stage actress, when she was 12. A steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and caffeine junkie, the author now resides in Florida with her husband and two children. Melanie is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.

Blog: http://www.melaniekarsak.blogspot.com

Twitter: twitter.com/MelanieKarsak

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMelanieKarsak

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/melaniekarsak/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6539577.Melanie_Karsak

Spotlight On: Full Moon on the Rise, by Natalie Carlisle

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Full Moon on the Rise
By: Natalie Carlisle

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Blurb
Someone in Emerson Fox Academy is determined to kill him, and Kale Rollins doesn’t know how much more he can take. And on top of everything, his adopted mom has “disappeared” and his real brother, Trey, is leaving just when Kale needs him the most. Not to mention, Miller and Kit are getting too close for his comfort and there is nothing he can do about it.

Frustrated, scared, and struggling for “control” Kale doesn’t trust himself at all. With the full moon on the rise, Kale soon realizes he isn’t the only one who might die.

What he wouldn’t do to be normal these days…

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Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Natalie-Carlisle/e/B00DQDBLN8

Link to Follow Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2013/09/now-booking-tasty-blurb-tour-tasty.html

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Author Info
Natalie

Natalie Carlisle currently lives with her husband and two dogs in New Jersey but misses the mountains of her hometown in PA every day. When not writing, Natalie can be found reading, drawing, painting, watching chick flicks, taking pictures of nature, running (when her knee is being cooperative)and hiking. She loves being active though lately most of her time is spent in front of a computer working on her next novel.

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Author Links
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6555319.Natalie_Carlisle
http://nataliecarlisle.blogspot.com/
http://www.tell-talepublishing.com/natalie-carlisle.html
https://www.facebook.com/natalie.carlisle.71

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Rafflecopter Giveaway (Digital Set of THE SHIFTED and FULL MOON ON THE RISE or $10.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Card)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Excerpt

“Please pick up… come on, pick up.” Kale’s fingers worried the cord of the library’s phone for the second time that day. And just like yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that… there was still no answer. “Come on.”

Another ring passed loudly in his ear. Two more and he knew the answering machine would pick up. Again. He held his breath.

One…

Come on.

Two…

“Hi! You reached the Rollins’ residence. We can’t come to the phone right now—”

“Damn it!” Deep inhale. He slammed the receiver. Heads turned toward the noise to stare at him. It took everything in him not to snap at them. Bending over he snatched his book bag off the floor and swung it hastily over his shoulder. Ignore them. They don’t get it. Their lives are normal.

What he wouldn’t do to be normal these days.

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Full Moon On The Rise Natalie Carlisle Blurb

Interview: Bebe Knight, Author of An Element of Time

Today, we are joined by the incomparable Bebe Knight, not only a fabulous writer, but a delightfully generous person with whom to work. She is here discussing her Eternal Flame series–in particular, the first novel, An Element of Time. Welcome, Bebe!

(Also, An Element of Time is on sale for $.99 right now–it’s a great time to get it!)

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First off, I just want to say thank you to Margo for hosting me! It’s an honor to be able to work with some amazing authors such as her!

What do you write about?

My Eternal Flame Series is a paranormal romance series. In the first book, An Element of Time, you get to meet a coven of vampires, some evil werewolves and a group of hunters. There’s a little bit of something for everyone! There’s some action, suspense and a whole lot of desire when it comes to our hero and heroine, Mackenzie and Veronica.

Have you ever used characteristics from someone you know in one of your books?

Yes! My stories are very character driven and I love to incorporate real life moments into their lives. Be it physical characteristics, emotional characteristics, or even just the way they talk.

Tell us a little about your work in progress.

Right now I’m working on two things. One is the second book in my series which will be titled Sunset Shadows. And two, a young adult screenplay. (Actually, I’ve been working on it for about five years.)

What is your personal writing process?

I have to be in the zone in order to write. I need total silence, I need a cup of coffee (or wine depending on the scene I’m writing) and I need a good solid chunk of time to be able to write.

Who are a few authors you look up to?

I adore J.R. Ward and J.K. Rowling. I strive to be as talented as those two classy ladies.

What inspired you to write your first book?

NaNoWriMo and Twilight. I was talking to my sister one day about how paranormal romance was all the rage and mentioned I had an idea for a series. She introduced me to NaNoWriMo and said I should just give it a try. So I did, and the first draft of An Element of Time was born.

What do you find particularly challenging about writing?

Right now, finding the time with a toddler!

If there was one message you could send to everybody who reads your books, what would it be?

That I truly hope you enjoy it. That it tugs at your heart strings, brings you some good laughs and that the characters stay with you forever.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Just go for it. You’ll never know how it ends if you don’t at least start.

Where can readers find you and your work?

Right now An Element of Time is available in e-book format exclusively through Amazon. Paperback due out early 2014.
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Amazon.co.uk

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Check out the information and excerpt below. Remember: An Element of Time is only $.99 this weekend!

An Element of Time COVER

A vampire and a slayer walk into a bar… Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but for Veronica and Mackenzie, it’s the beginning of the rest of their lives…

The world has seen its fair share of evil, but Veronica Chase had no idea such monsters truly existed. Werewolves, poltergeists, witches… even vampires. Ignorance was bliss. But her reality was crushed on that horrid day her family was taken away from her. Now, Veronica has devoted her entire life to hunting those very creatures, searching for the werewolf pack that murdered her parents in hopes of finding her abducted sister. Nothing will get in her way of settling the score for the hand she was unjustly dealt. That is until her newest assignment brings her to her knees.

After one hundred and eight years on earth, Mackenzie Jones thought he had seen it all. With the exception of daylight of course, but that’s what comes with the territory being a vampire and all. Perpetually damned to live his life as a bartender in the shadows of the night, nothing has sparked his interest lately. Just once he wished something exciting would happen in his mundane life. Little did he know, his wish was about to come true. Walking through the door to his bar, and into his heart, Mackenzie allows love to take the wheel for the first time. There’s just one slight problem. She’s there to kill him.

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Excerpt

The delectable scent of meat searing on the grill hit his senses as he made his way into the kitchen. Daniela was making his favorite meal; filet mignon. Mackenzie hadn’t realized how long he’d gone without food until now; his stomach growled in response to the sizzling steak, ready to eat it raw if he had to. Daniela turned off the blender and poured the concoction into some glasses.

“I thought this might cheer you up,” Daniela said, handing a glass to Mackenzie. “Drink up!” Her attention went back to the blender as she sang, “You put the lime in the coconut, and drink them both up.”

Daniela had a way of making all the troubles in the world just disappear, even if it was as simple as making his favorite meal or whipping up a tasty drink. Mackenzie sat at the head of the table and gulped down the contents in his cup. But for some reason, it didn’t work this time. He was still as depressed as he was before. Maybe even more so.

Smacking the glass down on the table a little harder than he intended, the crystal chimed delicately in response. One drop of blood from the Type O cocktail escaped the lip of the glass and started to slowly slide its way down to the base. Mackenzie stared at the liquid ruby and couldn’t help but image it being the warm blood of a lover, descending down her neck after a fresh bite. His fangs released in response. How he longed to hold a woman with soft, beautiful skin in his arms. Maybe Daniela was right, maybe he did need a companion. Instead, the opaque crystal goblet sat lifelessly in his palm. He picked up the glass and slowly licked the droplet in one upward flick of the tongue. The action, as harmless as it was, opened a flood gate of instincts Mackenzie had to try to repress; he had to push back into the coffin where he stashed them years ago.

“You okay?” Daniela asked, sitting down next to him. “You look a little pale, like you’re going to be sick.”

“Of course I’m pale. I’m a vampire.” Mackenzie smiled, showing off his protracted fangs. Daniela chuckled in response and went back to finishing the meal.

Lucky for him, she bought his lame excuse when in actuality he was scared. Scared that his vampire nature would spring to life and drown him in blood lust for all the years he suppressed the urge. He barely knew what it was like to be a vampire, but his instincts were rushing back to him.

Now, after visualizing that tantalizing temptation, he had to try not to be one again.

Shit, Mackenzie thought.

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About the Author

BebeKnight

Bebe Knight is the author of the paranormal romance series, The Eternal Flame Books. She lives in Upstate NY with her husband and son. Writing has always been a part of her life whether it be books, plays, or handwritten letters to friends and family. It’s a dream come true for her to be able to share her stories with others.

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Connect with Bebe

http://www.bebeknight.com
https://www.facebook.com/BebeKnightAuthor
http://www.goodreads.com/Bebe_Knight
http://www.twitter.com/Bebe_Knight

Review: Cerberus, by P.K. Gallagher + Giveaway

Cerberus

Review

In P.K. Gallagher’s novel Cerberus, Kaeden Parish’s life seems perfectly normal. Sure, his girlfriend Genesis might seem a little reserved sometimes, and Hagan, the guy he’s training to take over his job at Bosch’s Archive antique bookstore, might be a little too good, but nothing’s out of the ordinary. He’s got plans for his future after graduation, and he doesn’t see them changing anytime soon. Until, that is, the night he is attacked in a dark alley by a stranger who seems to know who he is. Kaeden’s world turns upside down, and all the rules he used to follow no longer apply.

Cerberus drew me in instantly. Watching Kaeden’s unwilling transformation from regular-guy student to the kind of monster he never believed in was fabulous, and Gallagher’s depictions of the relationship between Genesis and Kaeden rang true for me, right down to Kaeden’s slight disbelief that he had never quite grown used to the attraction he felt for her. Unraveling the mystery of the secret Genesis holds—the underlying reason for her reserved nature—and Kaeden’s new experiences in a supernatural shadow world kept me entertained throughout the book.

I don’t want to give any serious spoilers, so I’ll just say that the utter lack of sparkles in this book made me happy—I love novels that trace a character’s experience changing from human to monster, and this one did not fail. It’s a great book, and perfect for October; it’s got mystery, monsters, and mayhem galore, and it made me a very happy reader. I can’t wait for the next book!

Score: 9/10
5 stars

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About the Author

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Despite writing stories that take place almost exclusively in New England, speculative young adult fiction author P. K. Gallagher has lived in the suburbs of the south her entire life. It is to this that she attributes her love of the fantastic and the supernatural—writing such things was her only escape from the monotony of Suburbia. Gallagher graduated from Florida A&M University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a fervent desire to never set foot inside a newsroom again.

She currently lives in Atlanta and divides her time between working a day job, finishing her works in progress, and perfecting her plans for world domination.

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Connect with P. K. Gallagher

Website * Twitter * Facebook

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Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway

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cerberus-tour

Cover Reveal: Wolves and the River of Stone (Vesik, Book 2)

Wolves and the River of Stone (Vesik, Book 2)
by Eric R Asher

Expected Pub: 10/22/2013

Wolves and the River Stone by Eric R Asher

Philip, Zola’s boyfriend from one hundred and fifty years ago, is not nearly as dead as we thought. I really wish he was. Not only has he kidnapped Zola, but he’s raising an army to scour humanity from the earth. Hopefully the local werewolf pack will help. What could possibly go wrong?

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About the Author

Eric is a former bookseller, guitarist, and comic seller currently living in Saint Louis, Missouri. A lifelong enthusiast of books, music, toys, and games, he discovered a love for the written word after being dragged to the library by his parents at a young age. When he is not writing, you can usually find him reading, gaming, or buried beneath a small avalanche of Transformers.

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Connect with Eric

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

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Also, check out Book 1 of the series:

Days Gone Bad (Vesik, Book 1)
by Eric R Asher

Days Gone Bad by Eric R Asher

My name is Damian Valdis Vesik. I am a necromancer, an ability feared and hated as much as the powers my master and I set ourselves against. We’ve vanquished many evils, but now something is releasing an old darkness, forcing us to hunt an enemy beyond anything I’ve faced before. I was already busy enough with vampires, fairies, witches, Watchers, weddings, and … damn, I need a vacation.

Goodreads
Amazon

A Tale of Two Centuries by Rachel Harris

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Alessandra D’Angeli is in need of an adventure. Tired of her sixteenth-century life in Italy and homesick for her time-traveling cousin, Cat, who visited her for a magical week and dazzled her with tales of the future, Alessandra is lost. Until the stars hear her plea.

One mystical spell later, Alessandra appears on Cat’s Beverly Hills doorstep five hundred years in the future. Surrounded by confusing gadgets, scary transportation, and scandalous clothing, Less is hesitant to live the life of a twenty-first century teen…until she meets the infuriating—and infuriatingly handsome—surfer Austin Michaels. Austin challenges everything she believes in…and introduces her to a world filled with possibility.

With the clock ticking, Less knows she must live every moment of her modern life while she still can. But how will she return to the drab life of her past when the future is what holds everything she’s come to love?

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Excerpt
Without stopping or even slowing his stride, he grabs a map from a vendor and flips it open. “So Lethal Xperience is at the back of the park. We’ll hit that first and then make our way up to the front.”

He seems unaware that the length of his legs far exceeds my own. As I frantically attempt to match his stride, I must pant or wheeze because he finally looks down at me, no doubt pink-faced and wide-eyed both from the sensory overload surrounding us and my huffing at a near jog to stay beside him. He grins. “Try to keep up, Short Stuff.”

I grit my teeth with determination and somehow keep myself from muttering, Yes, Master. But the thought still makes me smile. Cat must be rubbing off.

We pass a circular ride filled with fake horses going up and down. Giggling and drooling children clap their adorable hands from their belted saddles while a spirited tune blares overhead. Just past that is a miniature roller coaster made to look like a giant, happy centipede. The child in the front seat waves to his mother as the cart dips, and his squeal of joy tails behind him. It’s too bad that not all roller coasters can be five feet tall.

Then I get a wicked idea.

Austin believes I am a child, naive and boring, and, it would seem, without any humor. This second challenge is supposed to be about fun, and nothing—not even the lead role in a prestigious play with a crowd of a thousand—will give me more joy than turning the tables on him, even if only for a moment.

Looking back at the children’s ride, I grab Austin’s elbow and say innocently, “Is this not the roller coaster you are looking for?”

He stops rather abruptly and peers at me through squinted eyes. “You know, it’s like you look normal…” He trails off and shakes his head. He points a long tan finger at the centipede ride and in a tone dripping with condescension explains, “Less, Arthropod Picnic is a kiddie ride. It’s made for pint-size ankle-biters ages three and under.”

I try my best to look disappointed. I do everything I can to contain my mounting delight. But after no more than a few brief moments, I let forth a victorious giggle.

Realization dawns on his face. “You think you’re funny, huh?”

When I nod, he chuckles. He leans back on his heels and lets his gaze travel over my body. Humor dissipates as my skin prickles to life. On Austin’s slow ascent back up, he pauses to look me in the eye and an emotion crosses his face. It’s so fleeting—gone and there in an instant—that I cannot catch it.

“So, you think you’re ready to play at the big girl table now.” The left side of his mouth kicks up in a grin. “We’ll just have to see about that.”

The apparent taunt and Austin’s added wink spur me on.

This is my chance to prove to him that I’m not the timid girl I once was. To prove to myself that I’m no longer the child of my youth but a woman ready for the future.

I sashay toward a person dressed as a shiny nugget of gold posing for pictures with children, feeling Austin watching me, his gaze on my every step like a physical touch. My legs feel wobbly under my skirt, but an energizing spark ignites in my blood. I glance over my shoulder, confirming I have his complete attention, and then with an outward shrug (and an inner dance), I reply with every ounce of confidence I can muster, “Yes. We will.”

Austin’s smile widens. The sounds and patrons of the park fade away, and it is as if we are the only two around. I don’t know what is happening…I scarcely even recognize myself in this moment. Being with Austin does that. It turns me into someone else.

And I like who I become.

I watch his slow saunter, my body poised with tension. I don’t know what is going to happen next, but I wouldn’t trade the delicious expectation for anything. Austin doesn’t stop until he is right in front of me, close enough that I have to look up to meet his demanding blue gaze, and so close that warmth fans across my face as he says in a low voice, “Careful, girl. You’re playing with fire.”

“I’ve been careful my whole life,” I tell him, surprising myself with the resentment ringing in my tone. But it’s the truth. “And you know, I think it’s about time for me to be a little…” I bite the corner of my bottom lip, searching for exactly the right word to describe the emotions and thoughts that have surfaced the last few days. When I find it, I smile and wiggle my eyebrows suggestively “Wild.”

Austin sucks in a breath. He searches my eyes and I boldly stare back, praying that he cannot see my knees shaking. Then, obviously concluding that I meant every word, he flashes his devilish grin. “I can work with that.”

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About Rachel Harris

I grew up in New Orleans, where I watched soap operas with my grandmother and stayed up late sneak reading my mama’s favorite romance novels. Now a Cajun cowgirl living in Houston, I still stay up way too late reading my favorite romances, only now, I can do so openly. I firmly believe life’s problems can be solved with a hot, powdered-sugar-coated beignet or a thick slice of king cake, and that screaming at strangers for cheap, plastic beads is acceptable behavior in certain situations.

When not typing furiously or flipping pages in an enthralling romance, I homeschool my two beautiful girls and watch reality television with my amazing husband.

I write YA, NA, and Adult Fun & Flirty Escapes. Taste The Heat is my adult romance debut, and I’m also the author of MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY and A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES, as well as a ton of other books to come. I love hearing from readers and dishing books!

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Book Blitz: Elemental Killers by Mia Hoddell

Deadly to Love (Elemental Killers #1)
by Mia Hoddell
Release Date: February 2013

Genre: YA/Romance/Paranormal/Fantasy
ASIN: B00BDQ3QGA
ISBN: 978-1-291-41025-9
Blurb:
The world is dangerous – but love will kill you.

Little did Serena Jackson know that one simple, flirty remark to an anonymous guy online would lead to her world being changed forever.

She doesn’t know him, but inexplicably, is drawn. She knows it is wrong but she agrees to meet.

His real name is Kai. He is beautiful. And immediately Serena feels herself blindly falling for him even though she senses a lie. She knows he is hiding something and it terrifies her.

What she doesn’t realise is that her entire life has been built on secrets and lies. The people she loved left her in the dark for a reason.

She trusted them. She trusts Kai. But as he pulls her straight into the heart of the danger the lies and deadly secrets are revealed. They overwhelm her, and the person she once was no longer exists as she is thrown into a ruthless world of elemental forces. The price of truth is her life—and now the world wants her dead.

Available from:

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Lulu
and only 99c / 77p on Kindle for September!

Praise:
“I couldn’t put it down. So I finished it last
night and all I can say is WOW! This book was amazing and different.”
Brianna (Book Blogger)

I loved how the author took a different
approach to writing a love story in modern times with the paranormal element present.
I thought it was absolutely wonderful and refreshing.
Marvelous!” Kathy H (Amazon Reviewer)

I will admit I scoffed at the way it
started but in the end I had fallen in love with this story…completely
untraditional it was a very original idea, not to mention modern.
This story had
such a good plot and the story structure was sound.
Kacii – The Kooky Bookworm (Book Blogger)

About the Author
Mia Hoddell lives in the UK with her family and two cats. She spends most of her time writing or reading and loves anything paranormal. Mia always had a love of writing but never reading. She was more interested in sports and hated sitting still – despite getting three poems published before the age of sixteen. Finally though, she found some novels that captured her interest and developed a love of reading which is now one of her favourite hobbies.
Mia began with poems before moving on to short stories. Although she enjoyed this, Mia found she had too much to tell with too little space, so later on she created her first series ‘The Wanderer Trilogy’ and from there other ideas have emerged. With a total of nine books planned at this moment, she is busy working on her second series ‘Elemental Killers’ before moving onto the next idea on her ever growing list.

***Excerpt***
Happy with the amount of photos I had collected I started to head back out of the forest, still flicking through my shots. As well as close ups, I had taken a few landscapes and as I was almost at the edge of the forest I noticed something in one of the photographs that made me stop.
In the left hand corner was a figure that looked mostly human, but was blurred as if they were moving on the spot.
A cold shudder shot through me.
Looking over my shoulder I became slightly panicked and felt as if someone was following me.
My eyes flicked and searched the shadows. Even though there was no sign that anything had ever been behind me, the forest looked different now – dark and threatening.
Instinctively I broke away and ran, still clutching the camera that was displaying the freaky image. Surrounded by trees I didn’t stop until I was free of the forest and back in the open light and sight of my house.
Throwing open my door, I slumped against the inside of it, regaining my breath from the short sprint. Once I had recovered I looked down at the photo once more, just to make sure that I hadn’t been seeing things. The old saying “the camera never lies,” came into my mind and for the first time I wished it not to be true. Sure enough though, as I looked down at the screen, the figure was still there and this time I noticed a red and orange glow around where its feet should have been. The image almost looked like the person was on fire but I thought I would have surely noticed if there had been a burning man in front of me.

***GIVEAWAY***
Mia Hoddell is giving away an Amazon gift card this month only there is a slight twist: the more entries she receives the more money she will put on the gift card to giveaway! For example:
No matter what = $5
100 entries = $10
150 entries = $15
200 entries = $20
and so forth…
So if she gets 1000 entries she will give away $100, there’s no limit!

To enter all you have to do is buy or have bought Deadly to Love. It’s only $0.99 or £0.79 on Amazon for the duration of the giveaway! This will also unlock extra entries for you so you can earn more points by sharing the giveaway. Remember the more entries she gets the bigger the prize for you so share!


Cover Reveal: RecruitZ (Afterworld Series #1) by Karice Bolton

RecruitZ (Afterworld Series #1) by Karice Bolton
Expected Publication: October 2013

RecruitZ Karice Bolton

Scientists are the new rock stars. The infection has been contained for nearly three months, and the world is celebrating. But humans are still dying. Rebekah Taylor has seen it firsthand. Her husband was killed right in front of her by the very creatures that humans were told they no longer had to fear.

Rebekah is determined to find out who is responsible for the death of her husband and the obvious cover-up. Fueled with revenge, she begins to find answers that lead to one frightening conclusion. The apocalypse might be over, but the battles are just beginning.

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About the Author

Karice Bolton is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy author living in the Pacific Northwest. All three books in The Watchers Trilogy are available now, Awakening, Legions, and Cataclysm. Lonely Souls, which is the first book in her new series Witch Avenue, was released in June 2012. Recruitz is due out in October.

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Connect with Karice

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

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Waking Up Dead Sneak Peek and Giveaway

Be sure to enter the giveaway for a free copy of the eBook and a $10 Amazon gift card:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Waking Up Dead

When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex. Now she’s witnessed another murder, and she’s not about to let this one go. She’s determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up in Alabama?

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Excerpt

As Molly straightened up, the man slipped the wire over her head and twisted it around her neck. She struggled, but he pulled the garrote tighter and tighter.

I was screaming at the top of my ghostly voice, for all the good it did me. I moved up behind the man and beat at his back with closed fists–fists that slipped in and out of his back without ever making real contact. He shuddered a little–clearly he was one of the very slightly sensitive ones–but he didn’t loosen his hands.

I reached up and tried to grab the wire, tried to pull against the pressure he was exerting on the wire and it did loosen for an instant. But only for an instant. The living have more control over solid objects than the dead do. I never resented that fact more than at that moment.

But I kept trying. I kept trying as Molly’s face turned purple, then blue, then black, kept trying even as she drooped in the man’s grip.

Then he loosened the wire and it was too late. I watched that wispy, light-on-fog life force slip out of Molly and move on to wherever it is that other people go when they die. I was glad she didn’t show up next to me as a full-blown ghost. At that moment, I wouldn’t have wished my impotent half-existence on anyone.

I couldn’t help thinking that if I’d been alive, I might have been able to save her.

If I could have cried real tears, I would have. As it was, I was sobbing hoarsely and calling the man every dirty name I could think of.

I was still cursing as I followed him around the kitchen. First he opened the pantry and pulled out a box of Hefty garbage bags. Then he grabbed a knife out of the block on the counter. And finally, he picked up Molly’s body and carried it to the bathroom.

_____________________________________________

About the Author

Margo Bond Collins lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters. Waking Up Dead is her first published novel. Her second novel, Legally Undead, is an urban fantasy, forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press.

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Connect with Margo

Email: MargoBondCollins@gmail.com
Website: http://www.MargoBondCollins.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MargoBondCollin @MargoBondCollin
Google+: https://plus.google.com/116484555448104519902
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/vampirarchy
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MargoBondCollins
Facebook Novel Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Waking-Up-Dead/502076076537575
Tumblr: http://vampirarchybooks.tumblr.com/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mbondcollins/

Be sure to add Waking Up Dead to your Goodreads bookshelves: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18428064-waking-up-dead

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Book Trailers:

Spotlight On: Waterfell + Contest – Win one of 3 iPad Minis!

Waterfell banner

Welcome to the mother of all Waterfell contests, where you can win 400 gorgeous swag packs of tattoos, signed bookmarks and bookplates, as well as one of THREE iPad Minis. Yes, you read that right–in addition to the 400 prize packs, there will be THREE opportunities to make a super-awesome IPAD MINI yours!

First, a little about WATERFELL…

THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE QUEEN


Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day she can claim her birthright—the undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weapon—until her father’s betrayer confronts Nerissa and challenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa’s upcoming birthday—the day she comes of age. 


Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa’s mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpin that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her?

A sneak peek into WATERFELL…

“I’ve never wanted anything more than this moment. I smile and he does, too. He bends toward me, his fingers pulling upward drawing my face toward his. Lo smells of salt and sea, and everything else that I love about the ocean. His eyes are open and are a deep mesmerizing blue, staring deep into mine as if he’s searching for something other than my consent to kiss me. I don’t know what it is but his gaze makes me feel like I’m made of tingles and air.

At the last minute before his lips touch mine, his eyes flutter close.

The kiss is a shock of images and smells and feelings, hitting me all at once—my home, my friends, the ocean, the land, beauty, chaos, life, and this strange, infuriating, lovely boy. Everything about him flashes into me, and then there’s nothing else but Lo.”

1. WATERFELL PRE-ORDER CONTEST


If you preorder Waterfell by OCTOBER 28th 2013, 200 random winners will receive a signed Waterfell bookmark, signed bookplate, and a cool Waterfell tattoo. In addition to this prize pack, you will be entered to a super-awesome grand prize: an IPAD MINI (worth $350).

WaterfellSwagPackipadmini

Here’s how to enter:

You must preorder Waterfell (physical or e-book) by OCTOBER 28th to be entered into the giveaway. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below. No entries after October 28th will be counted. If your name is drawn for the grand prize, we will verify your emailed receipt that matches the date you entered (since this prize has a cash value). ALL ENTRIES WILL BE VERIFIED.

NOTE: The prize for this contest is not open internationally because of issues with taxes on mailing gifts. But if you are an international reader, you should definitely still preorder Waterfell. If you are one of the 200 prize pack winners, you will receive the signed bookmark, signed bookplate and tattoo. Every qualifying entrant (see prize rules) will receive a #WaterfellProm ticket for another chance to win an iPad Mini.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2. WATERFELL GET CREATIVE CONTEST



JellyfishExpress Your Inner Sea Monster! Calling all creative types—painters, sketchers, graphic artists, costume artists—you name it, we want it.

The more creative, the better. Win an IPAD MINI (worth $350) for your artistic efforts. Take a look at my Waterfell Pinterest board for inspiration or read Waterfell and let your imagination go wild! 200 random winners will receive a signed Waterfell bookmark, signed bookplate, and a cool Waterfell tattoo just for submitting your entry in the WATERFELL GET CREATIVE CONTEST.

Here’s how to enter:

Over the next four weeks from September 24th to October 21st, show us what you think the Aquarathi in Waterfell would look like in fan art (drawings, paintings, photography, costumes), and email it to mail@amaliehoward.com. You must submit by OCTOBER 21st to be eligible, and the work must be yours. No entries after October 21st will be considered.

I will select the top 20 pieces and place them on my website (with full credit), where the public will vote for the final winner the week of October 21st to October 28th. By submitting your entry, you approve of your work being displayed on this website. The grand prizewinner will be announced on the official Waterfell release date—October 29th.



NOTE: The prize for this contest is not open internationally because of issues with taxes on mailing gifts. But if you are an international contestant, you should definitely still submit your artwork/creative piece. If you are one of the 200 prize pack winners, you will receive the signed bookmark, signed bookplate and tattoo. Every qualifying entrant (see prize rules) will receive a #WaterfellProm ticket for another chance to win an IPad Mini.



3. WATERFELL “UNDER THE SEA” PROM


keep-calm-and-prom-onGet officially invited to the #WaterfellProm and be crowned Prom King or Queen!

Here’s how to score a ticket:

Anyone who enters either of the Waterfell contests (preorder or creative) OR joins either of the official Waterfell Blog Tours from Harlequin TEEN and JKS Communications will receive an exclusive ticket to the invite-only online Waterfell “Under The Sea” Prom, just like Nerissa, Lo and all their friends in the book! Costumes optional.

Your prom ticket will entitle the bearer to one entry in the PROM KING or QUEEN drawing during the #WaterfellProm. Not only will the Waterfell Prom King or Queen be virtually crowned during the online prom, he or she will win an IPAD MINI (worth $350).

If you didn’t get a slot in either of the official Waterfell Blog Tours, but still wrote a blog post (review, interview, character interview, etc.) about Waterfell that you promoted on social media, you are absolutely entitled to a prom ticket. Email a link to your post to mail@amaliehoward.com to qualify and receive your ticket.

NOTE: The prize for this contest is not open internationally because of issues with taxes on mailing gifts. But if you are an international attendee, you are still welcome. There will be several other international prizes like signed books, swag and jewelry for the homecoming court! So KEEP CALM and PROM ON!